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This is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Nick Miles. And in the early hours of Tuesday, the 9th of February, these are our main stories as Donald Trump's second Senate impeachment trial begins today. His lawyers have been stressing that he never incited people to storm Congress. The head of the Burmese military has sought to justify his overthrow of the elected government in its first address since last week. Coup in a tit for tat move, Germany, Poland and Sweden are each expelling one Russian diplomat in a growing row over Moscow's treatment of Alexei Navalny.


Also in this podcast, Vaccines vs. Variants The battle to stay one step ahead of coronavirus.


There may well be other, more virulent versions of the virus in other locations around the world, and we're completely blind to that at the moment.


And up, up and away, Tesla puts a rocket under the price of Bitcoin. As we record this podcast, Donald Trump's impeachment trial, number two, is due to get underway in the Senate to profoundly different views.


At issue, whether as Democrats believe he incited insurrection, deliberately provoking the lethal invasion of Congress on January the 6th and whether potentially he should be barred from holding office ever again. Senate Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer explains why they backed this trial.


Truth and accountability are essential. Some people say, oh, let this go away. Oh, no. When something as horrible as dastardly that happened on January 6th because you cannot sweep it under the rug, you must have all the truth come out and then the accountability once the truth comes out, that's what we aim to do with this trial.


For the Republicans, though, the process is unconstitutional and a brazen political act. Mr. Trump's lawyers have revealed that pretrial brief in which they dismissed the incitement charges against him.


Anthony Zuiker is our U.S. correspondent.


They released a brief last week as well that kind of telegraphed what their arguments were going to be. And those are two part. First, they're going to argue that the entire proceedings are unconstitutional, that someone who has already left the office of presidency cannot be impeached and removed from office because he's no longer in office. Now, if that argument fails, they're going to fall back on arguing that Donald Trump was engaging in his free speech at that rally the morning of the unrest on Capitol Hill, that he didn't do anything to incite the crowd, that in fact, there were members of that crowd that were planning on attacking the Capitol, regardless of what Donald Trump said.


And I imagine they will probably throw in some arguments that, oh, there are plenty of Democrats who use similar sort of confrontational language in the past and they haven't been punished. So that seems to be what they're hanging their hat on, at least in their early planning stages.


So, Anthony, it looks as though the Democrats don't have the numbers to convict. It is going ahead, but also some Democrats.


Do you think ruing this decision to go to the trial and impeach in the first place?


You're right. It would take 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats to remove Donald Trump or to punish Donald Trump, convict him in the Senate. And that seems unlikely at this point based on the votes that they've taken and their public comments. And there have been some Democrats who seem to be just wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible and in return, focus to Joe Biden's political agenda. Now, the House impeachment managers are the ones who are bringing these case, this case, the Democrats, they want a longer trial.


They want to be able to bring witnesses. They want to have a compelling case. But I think the reality is intruding on this, that it is a distraction for four Senate Democrats and they would rather focus on the future rather than what Donald Trump has done in the past. Even if there are some on the left who want this to serve as an example and set a marker down, that Donald Trump needs to be punished, as Anthony Zorch was saying, that the partisan lines are already sharply etched.


But not all Republicans are flocking to Donald Trump's defense.


Among those who say it is right that he stand trial is a group called Republicans for the Rule of Law. One of its members is former acting U.S. Attorney General Stuart Gersen.


He's standing trial. And I go further than that and say that he should be convicted on this trial because he has violated his fundamental pledge to take care that the law be faithfully executed. And indeed, he has fomented an insurrection which was geared to murder legislators to take a Nazi like stance and overthrow the legislature, if not the government itself. The arguments that have been made by various people like Rand Paul or not only unpersuasive. As a matter of logic, they are ill founded.


As a matter of constitutional law.


You will be aware that one prominent former conservative judge, Michael Luttig, has said that actually the Constitution is extremely clear on this and it's the impeachment is about to convict an incumbent president, not an ex-president.


Well, Michael Luttig, who I consider a friend, is simply wrong, as my colleague Charles Cooper, another conservative described in yesterday's New York Times, as I have written elsewhere, the reason why it's wrong is that the framers had this very thing in mind. Alexander Hamilton spoke about the idea of someone ducking the consequences of his misconduct by a timely resignation. Indeed, it was argued once before in the Belnap case in American history. And in fact, our law on the subject is derived from yours.


All of it makes it clear. And one just need look at the constitutional provision, which has two remedies, not just the. One that Michael Ludic gave way to, yes, removing a president from office is the first of those two, but the potentiality of banning that individual from future government service is the second remedy laid out very clearly. And that is forward looking. It's intended to be forward looking and it is by its terms, OK.


So even if we, you know, take it as read that you believe that it's right that he stand trial, the the next argument and again, you'll be aware of this is that there's no compelling evidence that he incited insurrection.


While Senator Paul quotes one rather benign sentence, think of the rest of them that were being uttered as these individuals were marching on the on the Capitol.


Well, except it was before they marched and he. No, and he didn't he didn't say to them, you know, go and violently storm Congress, did he?


What he used was were bellicose terms. I disagree with you that it was only before they were marching. It was while they were marching as as well. He continued to speak. He didn't he never condemned them. And he gave great aid and comfort. There was there's very little mystery to what what he intended.


Stuart, Gersen talking to my colleague Tim Franks. Carrying out a coup to protect democracy may seem like a contradiction in terms, but that's what the head of the armed forces in Myanmar has been suggesting. In his first public comments since last week's military takeover, General Mean Ong Ying said they'd had to step in arresting dozens of politicians as they did so because of irregularities in last November's election.


He said the Burmese armed forces, or Tatmadaw, were on the side of the people who were dying.


And Tatmadaw is always there for the citizens. Always citizens are the mothers, citizens, the fathers. The Tatmadaw always acts according to the law and obeys the 2008 constitution. The Tatmadaw held the election for justice for all the parties, which leads to democracy the way people always wanted.


The people, it seems, are not convinced. There are growing protests and now a curfew has been imposed in many of the larger cities across the country, gatherings of more than five people have been banned. Other areas are reporting similar restrictions. Our South-East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head has been looking at the backlash.


A convoy of motorbikes made its way along the stunning green hillsides of northern Chin State, the young riders singing a revolutionary song from 30 years ago to show their opposition to the coup. Protests have taken place across Myanmar today, even in its remotest corners. People poured into the center of Yangon, the largest city in huge numbers grouped by their professions. These were teachers. They were joined by lawyers, civil servants, engineers and Buddhist monks. There's no overall leadership of this movement.


But in just three days, it's turning into something like a national uprising. There was one tense confrontation in the capital, Naypyidaw, where police tried to disperse a protest with water cannon. Mostly, though, the police just stood back and watched. The televised warning was broadcast on government run television. That action would be taken against those who threaten public order. The military's next move is unclear, but its authority is eroding quickly, and it may yet resort to using armed force against the protesters to restore it.


Jonathan had a formal legal opinion published in the UK has concluded that there is a very credible case that the Chinese government is carrying out genocide against the weaker Muslim population. The opinion by Allison McDonald QC and colleagues at Essex Court Chambers, which was commissioned but not paid for by international and weaker human rights groups, examines evidence about the treatment of the community in north western China, which the Chinese government has dismissed as allies of the century.


We got more about the opinion from the leading international lawyer, Philippe Sands.


It's been commissioned by a non-governmental organisation, and it's a group of very reputable barristers. They are independent. They don't just do what they're told. They're given the basics of the facts. And then their job is to set out an independent view on what the facts mean in legal terms, in relation to crimes against humanity and genocide. And what's different, of course, from 1945 or the pre 45 period is that we now have these international rules. States are not free to treat their nationals as they wish.


There are limitations and this document helps to put the focus on those limitations.


And it doesn't just put the focus on state, does it? It puts it on individuals.


Now, I notice that it's done very carefully. It looks at premiers and others right at the top of the current regime of the People's Republic of China. And that is right, because at the end of the day, any legal opinion has got to ask the question, who is actually responsible for the decision making? It would appear on the basis of what we know and this opinion sets it out. These are decisions taken from on high. So they've put the focus on that.


And in terms of what evidence the barristers have used, it is secondary sources. Isn't that generally?


It is. And, you know, it's really difficult for obvious reasons. People are being held in camps. They're not free to get on their phones. And so word is slipped out. You know, it moves through various sources. We don't know, frankly, exactly what is going on. And that is part of the difficulty in these barristers have made that very clear. You know, there's another situation that I'm involved in, and that's the case of the Rohingya.


I'm doing the case at the International Court of Justice for the Gambia against Myanmar. In that case, we had lengthy independent reports prepared by UN special rapporteur and bodies, and they had conducted extensive interviews. They'd been on the ground, so to speak, over several years. And the difficulty for barristers writing an opinion in this instance is precisely they don't have that kind of authoritative material.


And what about the bar that needs to be cleared? It's higher for genocide, isn't it?


Yeah, I it just slightly for listeners to prove a genocide under international law, you have to prove an intention to destroy a group in whole or in part, the difficulty is always caused by proving intent. People tend not to leave bits of paper around saying, oh, I'm going to do this to these people in order to destroy them. So you're left to infer it from a pattern of behaviour. And that's what's happened in this opinion. They've done it very fairly, taking it as far as they can go.


Crimes against humanity, on the other hand, which frankly are as bad as genocide. You don't have to prove that special intent. And that's why it's easier to prove a crime against humanity than a genocide. That was Philippe Sands.


The value of Bitcoin has soared to a record high after the electric car maker Tesla revealed that it had heavily invested in the cryptocurrency. Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk, has been promoting the use of bitcoin on Twitter.


Here's our technology correspondent Rory Catlin joins Tesla.


Statement to the US regulator. The S.E.C. revealed that it had bought one point five billion dollars worth of Bitcoin in January. The electric car company says it expects to start accepting payments in the cryptocurrency in the future. The statement had an instant effect on Bitcoin's price, sending its soaring 14 per cent to a record high of nearly 44000 dollars. The news of Tesla's investment came after numerous tweets over recent weeks in which its chief executive, Elon Musk, has talked up Bitcoin at another cryptocurrency Dogecoin.


At one stage, Mr Musk, whose neck and neck with Amazon's Jeff Bezos in the list of the world's richest people, put the hashtag Bitcoin in his Twitter profile. Two years ago, he was ordered by the SEC to. Tesla's lawyers vet his tweets about his company after he promised on Twitter to take the business into private ownership without having secured the necessary funding. But Bitcoin and other crypto currencies are unregulated, so there's nothing to stop Elon Musk from rallying support for them.


Last October, the governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, said he was very nervous about people using Bitcoin for payments, pointing out that investors should realize its price was extremely volatile.


Rory Catlin Jones. Still to come, I saw so many people running on the ground, kids, women injured, killed for a moment that I thought about my family. International pressure grows for an end to the war in Yemen.


The UN has warned that conditions in Syrian detention camps that hold the families of jihadi fighters are so bad that they may amount to torture or cruel and degrading treatment.


The camps are run by local, mainly ethnic Kurdish fighters who defeated the Islamic State group from Geneva Immagine folks reports there are an estimated 64000 people in camps such as alcohol, most of them women and children.


They are, the UN says, living and dying in dire conditions exposed to violence, abuse and deprivation. One UN expert today described grandmothers in home countries watching their grandchildren die of malnutrition via mobile phones, but relatives trying to send money to help risk prosecution under counter-terrorism laws. Whatever the crimes of their parents and governments reluctant to take their citizens back, say many went to Syria to fight for Islamic State. The UN experts today warned there was no excuse for abandoning the children.


The countries of origin had perfectly adequate legal systems to prosecute parents if necessary, they added. What was lacking was the political will to honour their obligations under international law to children who are their citizens.


Imagine folks in Germany, Poland and Sweden have simultaneously announced retaliatory expulsions of Russian diplomats.


That's after Moscow expelled diplomats from each of those countries at the weekend.


Paul Adams has more details. Germany, Poland and Sweden said they were taking coordinated action following the expulsion of three of their own diplomats. Last week, Russia accused all three of taking part in protests in support of the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The three EU members said their diplomats were simply performing their duties. The EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Beral, said he learned of the Russian expulsions during a trip to Moscow on Friday. For her part, Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Safarova, called the European retaliation unjustified and unfriendly.


Paul Adams vaccines offer us hope of finally getting out of this coronavirus pandemic.


But there are concerns that one of the main vaccines developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca may not be effective against the variant first discovered in South Africa.


A small study carried out in the country showed that the jab was less effective against this particular mutation.


South Africa is now pausing the rollout of the AstraZeneca immunisation and seeking more scientific advice.


The World Health Organization has warned against jumping to conclusions about coronavirus vaccines.


Here are the thoughts of the director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Abrogates.


This is clearly concerning news. However, there are some important caveats. Given the limited sample size of the trial and the younger, healthier profile of the participants, it's important to determine whether or not the vaccine remains effective in preventing more severe illness. These results are a reminder that we need to do everything we can to reduce circulation of the virus with proven public health measures.


Well, that means social distancing and various degrees of lockdown's. But as our science editor David Shukman explains, keeping track of the variants as they occur is just as important.


The larger the number of people waiting to be vaccinated, the greater the chance the virus has to spread and to change. Every time it reproduces, tiny errors creep into its genetic code. Most are irrelevant, but a handful may turn out to be dangerous. While the UK and some other countries should have vaccinated the majority of their populations this year, many other nations will have to wait until next year or even later. And if new variants emerge in that time, detecting them may not be easy.


The UK is one of only a handful of countries able to spot mutations in the virus, according to Neil Ward of the genetic sequencing company Illumina in the UK.


We've done an amazing job of that. We've been sequencing hundreds of thousands of genomes for the virus strain, which is why we were able to find these new strains that are of concern. But large parts of the rest of the world are in the dark. Still, they've not been sequencing. There may well be other dangerous, more virulent, more pathogenic, more easily spread versions of the virus in other locations around the world. And we're completely blind to that at the moment.


Illumina has donated gene sequencing machines to 10 African countries to help them look out for variants. But an effort on a global scale is needed during the Ebola crisis five years ago. Mobile genetic laboratories were deployed in the field for the first time, and this may be a model for what could follow and all the time the risk is that new variants will emerge that can evade the vaccines and cause harm before the drugs can be updated.


David Shukman, President Biden has announced an end to US support for what he calls offensive operations in the war in Yemen, which has caused the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe. It's been six years since a Saudi led coalition backed by the US and the UK attempted to restore the internationally recognized government to power. But Houthi rebels backed by Iran still control most of the country. They recently launched missiles targeting Yemen's new government as it landed back in the country.


Our international correspondent Paula Guerin reports now from Aden Airport, where she saw the damage wrought by the attack.


This is where the first missile came, slamming in a deep crater in front of me, full of shards of metal, broken glass, lumps of concrete when the new government came to aid.


And this was supposed to be a moment of hope, a new beginning. But the attack has demonstrated how vulnerable ministers are.


This was the welcome when the cabinet landed on December 30th. There were three missile strikes killing 21 people, including aid workers and airport officials.


The government blames Iranian backed Houthi rebels who control most of Yemen. They deny it.


I'm here at the airport sitting with Mr. Al Ruini myself, has worked here for four years. How badly has everyone been affected by what happened myself?


It's affected all of us. At that time, we was waiting for hope to have all the women. He was waiting for the government full of laughing, sort of joking. And we see that everything turned out to be a war. We ask all of us what happened to our friends. Some of us would just ask this question. We started to cry. Men and women. We saw our friends full of blood. Some of them they holding some body parts of our friends just say sold fire.


And they saw so many, you know, people running on the ground, kids, women injured, killed. You know, for for a moment, I thought about my family.


Yemen's foreign minister, Ahmed bin Mubarak, saw the full horror from the plane, along with the rest of the newly formed unity government.


I was very optimistic, you know, hope to return to the country, start, you know, the process as a foreign minister. It was in the top of my agenda to start preparing for peace process and, you know, dealing with this all these challenges, we never thought that we going to, you know, have such a such attack.


Just arriving at the home of Yasmeen al-Awadi, she was the deputy minister for public works and she had gone to the airport to welcome the government back. So this is the fun of me if I'm not coming back. I miss her. So thank you so much for letting us come in. Thank you.


She was having so many plans and she used to have one lovely smile, always her friends. They used to compliment her on the horse. Do you have any thoughts, any words for the people who would carry out an action like this?


Yeah, I have like it's not only our family that lost really beloved person each and every house that I definitely have someone that they lost, I'm sure will whoever just did this thing, I I'm sure also that he have lost someone on his family. So I'm just saying just let's stop.


But can Yemen's conflict be stopped? It has deep roots and it's playing out against a backdrop of regional rivalries, the new U.S. president, Joe Biden, is pushing for peace. He may need to be ready for the long haul. Orla Guerin reporting there.


And that is all from us for now. But there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later on if you want to comment on this podcast or the topics we've covered in it. You can send us an email. The address, as usual, is Global podcast at BBC DOT Code UK. Today's studio manager was Craig Kingham. The producer was Alison Davies, and the editor is Karen Martin. I'm Nick Charles. And until next time, goodbye.